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Grove Karl Gilbert, in his classic monograph on Lake Bonneville (1890, p. 1), succinctly described for all geologists the importance of the Quaternary:

When the work of the geologist is finished and his final comprehensive report is written, the longest and most important chapter will be on the latest and shortest of the geological periods.

This book reviews the Quaternary geology of the contiguous United States beyond its glacial limits. Knowledge of the Quaternary has become increasingly important because it applies to many facets of paleoclimatology, engineering, and environmental geology, hydrogeology, and neotectonics.

We focus chiefly on Quaternary stratigraphy, not geomorphology. Geomorphic processes and systems that have operated in various regions of North America are discussed in Graf (1987). We also avoid discussing glacial geology as much as possible, although glacial relations are mentioned in areas adjoining glaciated ones. Richmond and Fullerton (1986) provide a recent synthesis of the glacial stratigraphy of the United States. Our volume also partly subordinates the Holocene and late Wisconsin records because Wright and Porter (1984) describe these records; also, Ruddiman and Wright (1987) cover part of this time span.

This book has two parts (see Table of Contents for details of coverage). The first part has short reviews of topics of general interest to students of the Quaternary: Quaternary paleoclimatology, dating methods applicable to the Quaternary, Quaternary volcanism, and Quaternary tephrochronology. Quaternary tectonism is treated in Slemmons and others (1991). Nonetheless, many of the regional chapters in this.

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